Born in Thailand, Supatra Chemprachum moved to Las Vegas in 1986. She learned folk and classical Thai dances and how to teach them from her mother, who was a well-known performer in Bangkok. Supatra founded the Thai Cultural Arts Association (TCAA) in 1993 to preserve and promote Thai traditions in Las Vegas. Her deep knowledge of Thai culture and traditions are evident in the elaborate costuming, intricate choreography, and informative explanations included in the dance productions she presents.
Under her creative direction, the Thai Cultural Arts Association of Las Vegas has brought to life the honored traditions of Thai music and dance for more than 16 years and, in doing so, has deepened the multiplicity of Nevada’s cultural diversity. It is her mission to not only bring her native culture to the wider public, but to instill in young people of Thai ancestry a pride in their own ethnic background.
Supatra explains that Thai culture is an ancient culture that she is a part of and that is sometimes overlooked. “The art of what we do has been this way for centuries and should be shared. It makes us all stronger as a community.”
Supatra has been both a master artist and a facilitator for other Thai cultural masters in the Apprenticeship Program in FY2005, FY2008 and FY 2010-11. Considered valued cultural treasures of Nevada, Supatra Chemprachum and the Thai Cultural Arts Association of Las Vegas received the Governor’s Arts Award for Excellence in Folk Arts in 2010 for ensuring the passing on of Thai traditions for generations to come.
This film is part of Nevada Stories, an online video project of the Nevada Arts Council’s Folklife Program, funded through a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.